Advertising as an Indie Author: Where to Start

You’ve written your first book, revised and edited it, and finally hit that “Publish” button. You’re over the moon that you’ve gotten your first piece out there but confused about why you’re not getting the feedback you thought you would. What do you do now? 

Advertising can seem intimidating, scary, and expensive for those who are just starting. Luckily, many websites and social platforms help indie authors get their books in front of the right audience. 

BookBub

Website: https://bookbub.com

Ad price: Varies based on auction bids

Created in 2012, BookBub is an online platform for authors to advertise their books and get their names out there. The site has become known as one of the top ones to discover new books and new authors. All books are either free or posted at a low, discounted price. They are carefully picked by the site’s editorial team, and only about 20 percent of books are published on the site. Along with finding new books and authors, BookBub has book recommendations, updates from the authors, and different articles. So why advertise your book on BookBub? 

BookBub’s advertisements are based on an auction system, and prices for ads on the site are always changing. Auctions work based on how much you bid for your advertisement. The winner will not end up paying what they bid for the ad; rather, they’ll pay just above what the next-highest bidder pays. The auction helps advertisers create a methodical ad, arranged to help the advertiser feel most successful about their advertisement so that they can reach the correct target audience. Before entering the auction, BookBub says authors need to do four things: 

  1. Set a budget for their campaigns
  2. Set a cost-per-click or cost-per-mille bid for their campaigns
  3. Set a target
  4. Edit their campaigns based on performance

BookBub posts books from the auction winners.

Once you have all of these lessons completed, you’ll be entered into the auction. Once the auction is over, usually around 20 percent of the participants are chosen. If you are chosen, you will be able to advertise your book on BookBub’s monthly email, but if you’re not chosen, you can still do many things on the site as an author. 

Based out of southern Pennsylvania, Ariele Sieling is a full-time Science Fiction and Fantasy author. Sieling says she has used BookBub in the past to advertise her books and get in front of new readers.

“The thing I like about BookBub is that they have author profiles, so readers can follow you. So every time I publish a book now, all of the people who follow me on BookBub get an email that I have a new book out,” Sieling says.

Setting up a BookBub author account and gaining followers will help you reach a larger audience, and more readers will be alerted of your new releases and deals. 

Goodreads

Goodreads is an online platform that helps readers locate the best books for them. As stated on its website, its mission is to help people find and share the books they love. Even though this site is reader-based, Goodreads offers great tools for authors to promote their books. The author program on the site is free, and authors are allowed to join from anywhere. The author program allows authors to create a profile, and through that profile, authors can promote their books through running giveaways, tell their followers about upcoming releases and news, and engage with their readers. Another great aspect of the author profile system on Goodreads is the verification step. Authors can become verified on the site and receive a “Goodreads badge.” Once you receive the badge, you can use the badge to tell your fans to follow you. 

The website has a list of all of the benefits that come with creating your author page, including

  • managing your own profile
  • promoting your published and soon-to-be-published books
  • interacting with your readers

TikTok

TikTok has quickly become one of the world’s most popular social media platforms. BookTok is a sub-community of the platform that’s focused on books and literature. Authors will give sneak peeks of their books, act out different skits, and even go live with their readers. TikTok is completely free for anyone to join and gives anyone a chance to be seen through their “For You Page.” The “For You Page” works through an algorithm in which the app will select videos they believe fit your niche and interests, reflecting what you would want to see. 

Diana Miller, an author under the pen name Raven Storm, says TikTok is her biggest platform for advertising her books right now.

“I have about fifteen thousand followers on TikTok, and I do a lot of skit videos for my books. I do skits where I pretend I’m the characters, and it gets a lot of traction for my books,” Miller says.

Miller advertising through her TikTok account

Although TikTok is a free platform for anyone to use, there is a way for you to shine a light on your videos through paid advertising. To start advertising on TikTok, you have to turn your account into a business account, set your budget, and start posting sponsored content. TikTok ads start at ten dollars per cost-per-thousand and can range between fifty thousand dollars and one hundred twenty thousand dollars, depending on the format of the advertisement.

According to the TikTok website, 52 percent of users say they find new products on TikTok ads, and 61 percent feel as if advertisements on TikTok are more unique than other top platforms. 

TikTok lists some perks that come with advertising through the platform:

  • Boost return on investment by reaching an applicable audience
  • Reach new audiences in more than twenty markets 
  • Fast setup for every level of skill
  • Pliable budget that works for different business sizes

Facebook

Facebook is the most commonly used social media platform around the world, so why wouldn’t you want to advertise your book there? Creating an author page on Facebook has many benefits for you and your readers. It’s an easy way to communicate with your readers. An author page makes it easy to announce upcoming book releases or events you may be hosting for your book release. 

Creating an author page on Facebook is fairly easy as well. All you need to do is create a Facebook account and change the account settings to become a business account. Once you have done this, you can personalize your page and start promoting your book for free.

This connection with your readers is very important. A Facebook author page is an excellent way to communicate with your readers. You can connect with them by sharing updates on books, going live and interacting with viewers, commenting back on posts in your feed, and in other ways. 

Facebook also allows you to advertise on the platform with basic ads.

According to the Meta website, there are seven steps to running an advertisement on Facebook:

  1. Choose your objective
  2. Select your audience
  3. Decide where to run your ad
  4. Set your budget
  5. Pick a format
  6. Place your order
  7. Measure and manage your ad

Once your advertisement on Facebook has been posted, you have free range to edit your campaign and track its performance. 

Advertising does not have to be scary or expensive. Most platforms will allow you to pick your budget for placing ads or even be completely free. Finding a platform that allows you to engage with your audience and be creative with your advertisements will help drive traffic to your book.

Natalie Hobbs

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